Why one school put advisers' offices in parking garages

'These students aren't in the student union or in residence halls'

Florida Atlantic University (FAU) now offers "drive-up advising" for its commuter students, reports Jake New for Inside Higher Ed.

In an attempt to meet students where they are, university officials commandeered security booths in two campus parking garages to use as part-time academic advising offices.

Within four months, advisors had met more than 500 students in the new offices, most of whom had not previously received regular academic advising.  

About 80% of FAU students commute to school—and 12% take classes in the evenings when campus offices are closed.

"These students aren't in the student union or in residence halls," says Joe Murray, FAU's director of university advising services. "There were students who hadn't interacted with an office for years," he says.

In a previous attempt to raise awareness about their services, the advising staff placed advisers on every floor in freshman resident halls during move-in. The project was determined to be a success, but it still only reached part of the student population.

Residential students were now easier to connect with, but commuters were still not being reached by the new program.

"Then we realized that we have these parking garages with these security huts that are just sitting there," Murray says. The booths come complete with desks, phone lines, and air-conditioning.

While it started as a joke, "drive-up advising," has turned to near-reality—students do have to park their cars first (New, Inside Higher Ed, 5/19).

The takeaway: Academic advisers at Florida Atlantic University used an innovative approach—offering counseling in parking garages—to reach commuter students.

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